Washington Park, IL – A Washington Park police officer fell to his death on Saturday night as he chased two suspects who had fled a traffic stop.
Illinois State Police Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr. (pictured) said at a press conference on Sunday that the series of events that led to 44-year-old Washington Park Police Auxiliary Officer Ricardo Davis’ death began with a traffic stop.
Auxiliary police officers are civilians who have been trained to assist the police department, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Officer Davis tried to conduct a traffic stop on a Chevrolet Traverse at about 4:47 p.m. on Oct. 27, but the suspect vehicle fled, KSDK reported.
The Chevrolet Traverse led police on a chase through East St. Louis and then onto I-64, where it sideswiped several vehicles before it crashed into a barrier on the Poplar Street Bridge.
Two men jumped out of the car and fled on foot, with several police officers in hot pursuit, including Officer Davis.
A witness whose vehicle was sideswiped by the suspect vehicle said she saw the men run from the crash.
“The vehicle had assault rifles, pistols, ski masks, and drugs inside the vehicle,” she told KTVI at the scene.
She said she watched officers pursue the suspects.
Officer Davis jumped over several concrete barriers on the bridge as he chased the men, and then one of the barriers had a 50-foot drop-off on the other side, KSDK reported.
The woman told KTVI that she thought the officer probably didn’t realize the road was not connected at that point.
"According to other officers, he had jumped over several concrete barriers and the third one, I believe, was the one that ended up being deadly," Trooper Dye told reporters.
The officer landed on the ground on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. He broke both legs and one hip, and also had extensive internal bleeding.
He was transported to St. Louis University Hospital with what police then believed were non-life-threatening injuries.
However, Officer Davis died shortly thereafter at the hospital.
No other officers were injured.
"We definitely are a fraternity, all law enforcement, so it is hard for us," Trooper Dye told reporters. "Our hearts go out to his family and friends. It's difficult especially since he was in the line of duty trying to apprehend some bad guys."
Both suspects were captured by other officers and taken into custody. Both men were 19 years old, KSDK reported.
Police have not yet released the suspects’ names but said one was from East St. Louis and the other was from Centralia, Illinois.
Illinois State Police were investigating, and no charges had yet been filed, according to KSDK.
“It’s a big loss to the community and sad it had to end this way. He did what he thought he had to do to protect the community,” Washington Park Mayor Rickie Thomas told the Belleville News-Democrat. “My heart goes out to the family and my prayers are certainly with the family. I am at a loss for words concerning this officer.”